Did you get a letter back from Paul Merriman, Health Minister when you signed our online letter petition?

This is Martin's reply letter and his subsequent reply back to the Minister.

 

Minister of Health

March 18, 2022


Thank you for your response addressing the most critical issue, which is the short staffing crisis plaguing healthcare today. There are several items in your response worthy of discussion.

A few short months ago, when the Delta Variant was the predominant strain, this government saw fit to enact an Emergency Order allowing for the redeployment of healthcare employees to mitigate the surge of Covid-19 cases.
The ability to redeploy staff to meet these needs is equivalent to robbing Peter to pay Paul. We all bore witness to this from the last time the Order was invoked that healthcare needs suffered as a result. This Order saw the surgical wait list grow exponentially, to the point your government entered into a multi-year deal with private, for-profit surgical centres. This begs the question why? Other health issues did not take a break when COVID-19 entered our lives. For the past two years, the solution should have been adding staff to meet COVID-19 response needs while maintaining other healthcare services, such as surgeries.

While telling the public that mandates are over, and life carries on as normal, you’ve admitted to media that hospitals haven’t been “normal” the entire time you were responsible as Health Minister and continue to be well over capacity. Are we to believe that everything is OK because the government says so, while you also say that hospitals are way over capacity and doctors are deciding which surgeries to cancel. How can we be OK when you know that healthcare is in a crisis right now. Many of us would like to determine for ourselves, what risk COVID continues to pose, but we’ve been robbed from that because your government has taken away the ability to see case counts on a daily basis.

Your reply also mentions the use of Social Media as a medium to advertise Employment opportunities.
While the Use of Social Media to recruit may seem like a great way to get the word out, your government has failed to address the root causes of short staffing. Stagnant wages, an unpredictable work life balance and a non-replacement policy is not an attractive work environment. To recruit and retain healthcare workers, you must address these issues.
In your response, you speak to the opportunity for part time employees to increase hours of work as part of strategic planning, this should be of high concern. Instead, your government could insist on providing guaranteed full-time hours. Many cannot simply pick up extra work at the drop of a hat because they have had to find a second job to ensure bills are paid. Are you aware of postings that are considered permanent casual? That guarantees workers nothing. A commitment must go both ways.
It is interesting that your response mentions the work the ministry has initiated and provided funding for an increase to staff levels in specific areas of healthcare.

The Cancer Centre, Rural and Northern communities, Long Term Care, as well as Home Care were listed by you.
Most noticeably absent in your response is increasing staffing levels at Acute Care sites!

I’m sorry, I forgot, those are being offset by the private for-profit health clinics.
The Canada Health Act legislates that healthcare must be publicly funded and publicly administered. I will be following up with my Member of Parliament to address the concern that our provincial government is blatantly disregarding federal requirements when it comes to our public health services.

Martin Been

Saskatoon, Sask.

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